"With Steve, when you are dealing with an athlete like Tyson Fury, like Cunningham has to face, who has exceptional reach, height, and size advantages, we have to make the fight about skills. When it comes down to skills and boxing ability, I think Steve Cunningham is capable of doing what's necessary to combat Tyson Fury's challenge," stated world-class trainer Naazim Richardson, who talked about Steve Cunningham's showdown this weekend with Tyson Fury and much more. Check it out!
PC: Congratulations first and foremost on the big win with Bernard Hopkins over Tavoris Cloud. What did you think of his performance?
NR: It speaks for itself. Bernard is an exceptional creature. I'm glad that I'm around to be here to acknowledge him while he's doing it and I'm here to see him. There have been other greats in boxing, but to be so close and personal...I have one of the best seats in the house to see one of the best fighters in history.
PC: Was there anything about Tavoris Cloud that surprised you guys or was he as advertised?
NR: He was a strong, aggressive guy and he was that. He punches in combinations and is a decent puncher. He was pretty much what we felt he was. He brought everything we thought he was to the table. He was everything that we had seen in the past; maybe a little better than the Campillo fight. I had written that off anyway. I never considered that fight to be real. Everybody underestimates Campillo except for that Russian kid that just fought him.
PC: Being that Bernard is 48, would you like to see him take breaks in between fights or being that he is 48, would you like to see him come right back and not take too long off because he will only get older?
NR: Well, I think he needed the break after that shoulder [injury], but he really couldn't take a break like he wanted to because being an older guy, if he don't defend when he's supposed to, they will flush him out, and without a bargaining chip, he is in trouble, you know? He's too dangerous to fight for no reason. But he needed the break after the first Dawson fight where he got tossed on his shoulder. But he had to come right back and fight Dawson, and then after that, he got a little break and everything healed up properly like it was supposed to. And for the Cloud fight, he was ready to roll and he's ready to roll again.
PC: You have two guys going Saturday, Karl Dargan and Steve Cunningham. How has preparation been for both guys and what do you expect from each of them?
NR: With Steve, when you are dealing with an athlete like Tyson Fury, like Cunningham has to face, who has exceptional reach, height, and size advantages, we have to make the fight about skills. When it comes down to skills and boxing ability, I think Steve Cunningham is capable of doing what's necessary to combat Tyson Fury's challenge.
PC: Before we talk about Dargan, now that you have seen Steve at heavyweight a few times, was there certain things you worked on with him to deal with the size he will be facing or do you think every time out, he's gonna have to make it a matter of skills?
NR: He has to grow at all times and skill set and ring generalship and knowing when to attack and his capabilities to attack. He has to know himself very well to face the level of opponents he will be facing in the heavyweight division.
PC: Dargan is someone who is finally becoming a bit more active with injuries behind him. What do you expect from him on Saturday night?
NR: Dargan is on a campaign in the lightweight division to let them be aware that he's one of the best lightweights in the world. It's a slow, methodical journey. We are not gonna rush and shoot him up there. We are not gonna be able to manipulate the challenges, so he's pretty much gonna have to rumble. They match him with the potential of an upset, so he has to be 100%. Anytime he matches, he can be knocked off. he's gonna have to work because they are not using the method like most guys this day and age where they are just stringing guys along and laying out championships for certain guys. He doesn't have that advantage of a promotional team that's gonna promote him by not putting him in challenging bouts. It's like a baptism by fire. You grow in those challenging bouts and by the time we get to the top, you are well prepared.
PC: You told me Saturday night before the Donaire/Rigondeaux fight that the later the fight went, the more you liked Rigondeaux, but you said if Rigondeaux was to win, he would have to get off of the deck to do so and that's what he did. What did you think of that fight and the way it played out?
NR: My thing was, I thought Donaire might get Rigondeaux because I didn't know if Rigondeaux could climb off of the canvas. I had no doubt that he would have to climb off of the canvas and win, but I didn't know if he could climb off of the canvas with such a puncher like Donaire. To me, Donaire never caught him the way he wanted to, but he still had to get off of that canvas. I thought if Donaire caught him early, it wouldn't have shocked me for the fight to be called. Rigondeaux is one of the best boxers I have ever seen. I remember seeing him in the amateurs and the positioning and the movement of his feet puts him in a position a lot of times with little effort too. He doesn't do a lot of shuffling and all of that. Valero used to do that. The young guy that we lost who committed suicide, he did it similar to that, but with a higher octane and emotion and momentum. Rigondeaux's feet are always in position and he did it perfectly against Donaire. I had it a little more competitive than the HBO announce team had it, but however, it was an excellent performance by Rigondeaux and my hat goes off to him. Donaire is a young man I watched grow up and I hope we will see him soon. He is a tough hombre and I just think he had a lot of things going on, and that's not to take anything away from Rigondeaux, but I think Donaire had a lot of things going on to fight such an outstanding athlete.
PC: I know you don't like giving predictions, but they have a huge fight this weekend between Austin Trout and Canelo Alvarez. Just give me a preview of what you feel each guy has to do to win?
NR: I have been knowing Austin Trout for years and he is a sensational young boxer. Canelo is going to have to prove to me that he can outbox a guy of this magnitude. I think Canelo is going to have to fight complete rounds now. He has a tendency...he has a nice pattern that he does in the beginning of the round. He moves around, and in the middle of the round and then at the end of the round, he fights. And then it gives the impression that he is the aggressor and then he fights in the second half of the fight. He's going to have to fight more complete rounds to beat Austin Trout. Austin Trout is a solid competitor. He's not the kind of kid that's going to sit back on his Miguel Cotto win and let the world remember him by that. He wants to go right back in. He wants to prove that he's one of the best in the world and he's going to fight like that.
PC: I appreciate the time. I wish you and your fighters the best of luck this weekend and we will speak right afterwards. Is there anything else you want to say before I let you go?
NR: As always, man, I appreciate what you guys are doing with your site and bringing the news instead of the nonsense. It's good to see young guys doing their thing with this internet thing. I am glad to see Mayweather get back in there against this dude Guerrero, man. I have known him since he was a junior Olympian. I remember him when he was like 14 and 15 years old and I was impressed with him back then. He was just this lil' monster. That will be an interesting fight. I would like to send a shout out to them young guys Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado. I think they stood up for the world of boxing, as well as that young Russian kid Provodnikov and Timmy Bradley. I think these guys are good for boxing. We have a tough challenge on our hands with this Tyson Fury fight and I'm just hoping that Steve...after going in there and wiping out an opponent as big and as strong as Tyson Fury, who has all of these advantage and attributes that Tyson Fury has, I just hope Steve gets his just due and all of a sudden, people don't start writing off Tyson Fury; all of a sudden, he's not this and he's not that after Steve gets past him. I love the positive output that you put out for boxing and I thank you for the opportunity that you give us to express ourselves fairly.